What a busy month it has been on the tournament scene. Straight after Christmas we kicked off with the Powercat Marine Bribie Island Gamefish Club 21st Tournament of Champions. This was postponed a week due to bad weather but what a great move it proved to be with weather as good as you could expect over three days during summer and plenty of fish to be had on the weekend of the 12th, 13th and 14th of January. We had our chances on the boat I was fishing aboard, the Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club vessel Ymer a 34’ Black Watch raising enough fish to challenge on the first two days but due to a number of factors we only managed to tag one during tournament hours. Bribie Island Club President and Black Watch 34’ owner John Williams took every chance given and finished up on five Black Marlin and one Sailfish Tagged as well as some other species on his vessel Blue Black. The grounds everyone fished east of Cape Moreton are known to John like the back of his hand but you still need to put the right bait in front of the fish then get the tag in. This was a popular win as he had just come through a serious health scare the previous year. Marksman slipped into second place with some tagged Black Marlin and other species ahead of Luna with five tagged Marlin, one reasonably uncommon species in Queensland during summer, a Striped Marlin and four Black Marlin. Luna was skippered by the very experienced fisherman and owner of Manutea Russell Caporn. Nathan Douglass the owner’s son ran the deck and gave the other two boats a good run for their money. Aquasition a 680 Haines Hunter Patriot won the Champion boat under 7.5m and Champion Bribie Island Angler went to Zane Williams off Blue Black. His mother Karen took out Champion Female Angler and Bribie Island Gamefish club kept the Interclub Shield. Alex Fenwick off Compromise a 38’ Mustang took out champion Senior Angler.
The Fenwicks and Compromise kept their good form going in the recent Moreton Bay Boat Club Game andSportfishingSectionMoretonBay 8kg Billfish Challenge held out of Scarborough on theRedcliffePeninsula on the Australia Day weekend. This father son team do extremely well fishing with only two aboard a flybridge boat. Once connected they have another driving station in the cockpit to fight the fish. They ended up winning this tournament with 4 Billfish tagged. This tournament is a big event for all of the boats living in Newport Waters. Once again the weather played the game to a certain extent with a great day on the water on Australia Day.
Slotted into the middle of these two tournaments was the Gold Coast Gamefish Club Riviera Light Tackle Masters held once again at Hope Harbour’s Chancellor Resort on the 20th and 21st of January. Attendence wise this is usually the largest tournament in South East Queensland. This year 47 boats participated so it will be interesting to see if the Little Ship Gamefish Club Yamaha Lees Industries Gamefish Classic held at the One Mile at Dunwhich on North Stradbroke Island can eclipse it. Numbers have been edging up in recent years and some boats will have to anchor up outside the One Mile unless some serious dredging has taken place. The fishing in many cases comes secondary to the party atmosphere at “Little Ships” and it sees many once a year vessels register. In much the same way the Riviera Light Tackle Masters draws out many once a year Gold Coast vessels and it was sad to see only three visiting vessels namely The Phantom a 12m Black Watch Representing Mooloolaba club but fishing out of Newport Waters Scarborough, Big Business a 51’ Riviera also out of Redcliffe and Ymer from the Sunshine Coast make the effort. It was certainly worth the travel for The Phantom and Ymer taking out 1st and 3rd respectively. Travelling south on the Friday before the tournament may very well have helped the boats get a feel for the fishing with Ymer tagging three Black Marlin and a Sailfish on the way down and The Phantom tangling with a couple as well. The bite had been south of the Seaway in recent weeks off the Gold Coast but during the tournament the Tweed and up north of the Seaway were the places to be. Ian Walker the skipper/owner of The Phantom (www.thephantom.com.au) was the only male aboard for the weekend with an all female crew comprising wife Rene and daughter Jess along with other members of Mooloolaba and visiting Townsville Club ladies. Quite a few boats were on two Marlin each after day one but the girls got two early fish Sunday morning to sneak out in front of the field as the only boat on 4 tagged Marlin. Many boats had their chances at tagging a lot of fish but at the end of the day four is all it took. MV Grinner a commercial Steber skippered by the club President and local shark net contractor Craig “Grinner” Newton skippering a bunch of juniors in a top effort came out in front of a few boats with three Marlin tagged but he had some other species up his sleeve. Champion Junior went to Paul Corby aboard Reel Deal and Kingsley Young skippering the 26’ Black Watch Men in Black has come a long way in his fishing career in a short length of time to take out the Champion Boat under 8m. A tagged Wahoo could have been the difference for them between 4th overall and 3rd overall.
The next event will be the he Sunshine Coast Gamefish Classic contested out the Kawana Waters Hotel. Following that one and into March will be the Surfers Paradise Gamefish Club All Tackle All Species Couran Tournament. This is scheduled for the 17th and 18th of March and takes in ultra-light, light, medium and heavy tackle as well as inshore and offshore categories.
On the general fishing scene there have been one or two hot heavy tackle bites out on the shelf in recent months. David Granville (www.davidgranvillephotography.com) the ex Bluewater Magazine Editor has been almost exclusively fishing heavy tackle on the Noosa and Cape Moreton Canyons and seeing fish nearly every trip, including a couple of the biggest Blue Marlin he had ever scene in real life. Big fish are certainly out there as the Reelax boat (www.reelax.com.au) Reelax recently did a day off the Gold Coast raising five and tagging one after playing a few more. Some of their fish were Donkey class as well. Darryl Beutel’s Riviera Outrageous also tangled with some Gold Coast Blues going three from four over Christmas and at the same time there was a Blue bite going on atCoffsHarbour.
On the light tackle front the fish are here today and gone tomorrow at the moment. Small bites have been lasting a week or two then conditions change and they move on. The fish are widespread with the run of small Black Marlin stretching from Agnes Waters, the top of FraserIslandand right down to South West Rocks in NSW. Gun Gold Coast private boat Inkwazi was recently chasing the female flyfishing record for Black Marlin employing the services of gun flyfisho Dean Butler (www.deanbutler.com.au). Whilst talking flyfishing, the big news for a while before Christmas were the Black Marlin sight casted to by some hard core anglers fishing the top of Fraser Island. This made for extraordinary pictures with some even fought and landed from the beach.